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Hurricane relief, Hitman, and some good old-fashioned USC-bashing in this week’s Staff Picks

Digital Trends Staff Picks

Jennifer BergenJennifer Bergen: Lydia Callis’ Face for NYC Mayor

As Hurricane Sandy bore down on New York, while many of us sat glued to our TVs watching Mayor Michael Bloomberg give updates, it was tough to avoid looking to Bloomberg’s left at his extremely emphatic American Sign Language interpreter. The mayor was visibly exhausted; Lydia Callis looked like she had downed 15 hours of 5-Hour Energy drinks.

Callis’ over-animation caused some derision online, but it turns out that exaggeration is an important part of a sign interpreter’s job. Callis told local New York blog, DNAInfo that her role is to present both the good and the bad: “If he stutters, if he messes up a sentence, you’re going to see me stuttering, and you’re going to see me messing up the sentence,” she said. “Because the point of interpreting is to render the message faithfully, and that’s what I have to do.”

Callis has become New York’s most beloved hurricane celebrity, and we certainly salute her for her excellent signing skills – and others do, too. Check out Lydia Callis’ Face for NYC Mayor to see why we’re so infatuated with her.

natt garunNatt Garun: Airbnb reacts to Hurricane Sandy

In the wake of this week’s devastating hurricane, Airbnb sent out an email highlighting “Shell,” a Brooklyn-based host who offering five rooms in her loft, free of charge, for those left homeless by the storm. It’s a heart-warming act of kindness, and the home-sharing startup urges hosts in the region to do the same between now and November 7. During this week, hosts in New York, the Hamptons, Providence, Atlantic City, and New Haven will have service fees waived. Those not in a position to offer rooms for free are urged to lower their normal rates.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the ability to host, but if you do, consider taking this small step in making a difference. There are still thousands of people in the area without power or water. Now’s the chance to give a little for some good karma points.

airbnb sandy listings

ryan flemingRyan Fleming: Who Invited the Hitman to the party?

Have you ever wanted to see “Agent 47,” the star of the Hitman franchise, brought to life? Sure you have! Wait, there was a Hitman movie with Timothy Olyphant? And I saw it? Are you sure?

Huh, must have totally slipped my mind because of its lack of any substance. Oh well.

Freddie Wong, one of the better known YouTube-specific creators around, has a new short film based on the popular follicly-challenged assassin. This live action clip puts Agent 47 right in the thick of the bow-chicka-wow-wow, as his target is the director of a porn movie. The video is also nicely timed, as the next game in the franchise, Hitman Contracts, is due out on November 20.

The short is set in the world of flesh-slapping film, but there’s no nudity, so it’s SFW. I mean, other than the gratuitous violence, blood, and death, of course. Anyway, check it out and look for more from Freddie Wong as he continues his climb up the ranks of the Internet famous, which is just like being real famous minus the money and people knowing who you are.

caleb denisonCaleb Denison: Gear junkies: prepare to salivate

There are gobs of photos of dressed-up home theaters littering the internet . We’ve seen the deck of the Starship Enterprise, Batman’s batcave, and the Atrium of the Titanic reproduced as home theater environments. and while these are all very cool to look at (and probably sound pretty great, too) none of them – we repeat, none of them – can hold a candle to the absolutely over-the-top spectacle that is highlighted in the video below. Check out Guiness World Records holder Jermey Kipnis’ astounding home theater as featured on HGTV’s Million Dollar Rooms. The amplification alone (over one million dollars in Macintosh amplifiers) is worth a jaw-drop. Never mind the independent suspension for each amp, dedicated dual 15-inch subwoofers for each channel. And super tweeters? Come ON!

molly-mchughMolly McHugh: What’s wrong with hating USC?

My beloved University of Oregon Ducks – or as you SEC fans might know them: that team with the best uniforms, ridiculously fast-paced style of play, and DAT – are the team everyone loves to hate. Given how good we are, I can accept this. Have fun with defense-oriented, sluggish play. You can have it.

Saturday, the Ducks are taking on the USC Trojans, and even all the Duck antagonists out there can probably get on board with some good old USC hate. The overrated Matt Barkley is something like 89 percent chin. They’re based in Los Angeles, which is most of the country’s idea of a bad joke. And I know the rest of the Pac 12 wants to take down the Trojans. This Saturday: It. Is. On.

To get Duck Nation as pumped as I clearly am for the game, UO went ahead and made this “Storm L.A.” video featuring Olympic decathlete and UO alumnus Ashton Eaton and (of course) the Duck.

Combining Duck football with Star Wars? Looks like somebody up there likes me. Watch this and get on my level, world.

Make sure to check out our Staff Picks from previous weeks.

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